Friday, 16 November 2007

In this post I want to address the use of “used to”. Click here for my YouTube mini lesson on the subject.

Before we talk about "used to" we need to quickly consider the uses of the present simple tense.
In English we use the present simple to express something that is a habit, or something that happens regularly.

For example: “She drinks a lot of coffee”

The present simple is also used to express something that is true.

For example: “The hotel is over there”

Once you are comfortable with the present simple it is possible to look at “used to”.

In English “used to” is used to express two types of past situations.

1) An action that happen in the past, that was a habit or happened again and again, but no longer happens.

Example: “She used to drink a lot of coffee, but now she doesn’t”

2) When something was true in the past but no longer is.

Example: “There used to be a hotel over there, but now it is an apartment block”.

Don’t confuse “used to” with “get used to doing something” which is used to express when some action becomes normal for us.
Also don’t confuse “used to” with “to be used to doing something” which is used to express when something is normal for the speaker.

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